Sunday, December 24

December has come, and is almost gone...and with it has brought a flurry of so many emotions (good and hard), joyful Christmas parties, a family wedding, traveling, working, hosting a silent auction, and introducing Avonlea to the sights and sounds of the season.

It's been filled.... Kevin and I were just chatting and we realized that it may have been...too filled. We both vowed that next year we would say no to some events (even though it's all good things!), and yes to more time just being together and soaking in the reason for the season.

Introducing Avonlea to Christmas has been very special. She loves the twinkly lights and the Christmas music, she sings along in her little language:) At the beginning of December we drove up to the mountains to cut down our tree. No snow this year though, but it will still a blast! (Last year we go caught in a blizzard and it was absolutely magical!)

I love these pics of Avonlea helping decorate the tree. You can just see the wonder in her eyes. I was reflecting about how I crave that wonder again...the awe of a good King coming down to Earth, giving up his home in the heavenlies and choosing to dwell in a sinful world so that he could ultimately save us from it. Amazing. Truly.

While the bustle of the days are ever constant, when I slip into bed at night, in the stillness of our home, I say Thank you to our amazing father who gave up his son to be a radiant light in the world. A light that brings hope to my weary heart. This year, the chalkboard above our fireplace reads "a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices". I love this line from my favorite Christmas carol O Holy Night, because it reminds me that Christ, and only Christ is our glorious.

Wishing you the most hopeful Christmas yet:) Love Katie

A few links i'm loving...

Thursday, November 30

(this photo doesn't have much to do with this post, but I was looking at my pictures from Saint-Prex Switzerland and just loved this one:) 

This year, with having a sweet baby and working in a profession where I don't need a computer...I find that i'm rarely online (which may reflect so few blog posts this year, haha!).  So...when I do get online here and there, I really enjoy making my time count and reading things that are uplifting, encouraging and positive for my soul. Here are a few links I think are worth your time...

1) Sarah Clarkson's website and blog
The past few years i've raved about her mother, Sally Clarkson, and the impact she has had on my life. Just recently I discovered that Sarah has a blog. She lives in Oxford, England and studies theology at Oxford (what a dream!). Her writing is deep and meaningful, and she always has great book recommendations. Just a few days ago she put out a blog post on advent books and music that was So exciting to me. I found one of the advent music albums on youtube, and have been listening on repeat!! So good!

2) Inspiration Cruises and Tours Newsletter
Remember the cruise line that we sailed in Tahiti with? Yep, that's Inspiration Cruises and Tours. They put out a newsletter 4 times a year, and blend together travel with faith. Just a few days ago they put out their Fall newsletter, and there was a great article by Chuck Swindoll (remember my buddy from Tahiti? haha!) where he was talking about Finding God on the waters. It truly ministered to my soul. If you're interested in getting their newsletter, you can sign up here. 

3) Bronwyn's Corner
As a junior in college, I met one of the most amazing women- Bronwyn Lea. She's a feisty South African woman that pretty much could take on the world with her intelligence (she's got a law degree AND a masters in theology) and wit (she's hilarious, which makes her an incredible writer). She writes a blog, but also contributes to Relevant magazine and Christianity Today and a whole slew of other well known online magazines. My favorite posts are when readers send her a question and she responds. This post she did recently from a reader asking if they should watch Game of Thrones or not was REALLY good and insightful.

4) Michelle's blog
Michelle was one of the first bloggers I connected with when I started blogging forever ago. I love her because A) she's seriously, I email her blog posts to my mom on a regular basis and we giggle forever. And B) she has THE BEST BOOK LISTS! If you are a reader, please check out her book will get some great ideas!

What are your favorite links these days?? Send me your best reading materials!! xoxo

All things Fall!

Tuesday, November 21

This Fall has been a whirlwind, wonderful and hard. I love being able to look back on a season and see how God moved...the gifts that he gave and the way He has grown (and stretched me!). Here's a bit of a round-up of what this season has been like so far:

- I was a part of planning 2 huge in September and one in October! The first was a huge fundraising dinner for the counseling center I work for. It was so neat to see it come together after so much planning. The second was a handmade market gathering at our church. Not only was I a vendor (my mom and I made candles, pillows, bunting, wreaths and blanket ladders), but I was also the Emcee and shared about the home in Nepal that Kevin and I worked at in 2013. The event was so much fun, and a childhood friend of mine shared her testimony which was so powerful.

- I got pneumonia! was rough, I had it for 8 weeks, and had to take some time off work. I coughed so hard I thought I broke a rib, spent 3 separate days in the prompt care, and generally felt crummy. The silver lining was that through it all, Avonlea didn't get sick! Praise God!!

- I got to spend a weekend with both my sisters. Lena and I went to Apple Hill (here) where we literally frolicked in all things Fall. And then the next weekend Polly and I spent a weekend in Nevada City, perusing the adorable old mining town, taking hikes, sitting by fires and walking in the rain. My sisters are such lovely people, so it was very refreshing being with them.

- Avonlea turned 6 months in October, and then 7 months in November! She's sitting up, chatting up a storm, sprouted 2 teeth, and is just a JOY. We adore this sweet girl.

- Kevin made it through another harvest season! For about 6 weeks he was gone ALL THE TIME (which was hard)! We went out and visited him a few times on the farm, Avonlea was fascinated by the huge tractors. I found some John Deer boots for her at a yard sale, so she looked a legit farmers daughter, ha! It really is so beautiful out in the rice this time of year. I spent quite a few days visiting with my grandparents as they live out on the farm. My grandpa is 92 and my grandma in her late 80's, and they are just a delight. They adore Avonlea, so it's pretty fun to bring her out there.

- I hosted a Halloween party at my house! We ate soup and salad, handed out candy, and just hung out. Avonlea was a little lamb, so I decided to be Heidi (the little swiss shepherd girl, haha). My grandma lived in Germany in the 1950's and bought a few dirndl's from Salzburg in Austria, and I fit into them, so I used one for my costume. I felt very authentic, hehe! And…my mom came as a pirate, which was awesome. I get my love of dress-up from her…if you can't tell from the pictures below, hehe!

- Our good friend Matt from England came to visit us!! While he was out, we headed to the pumpkin patch to find ourselves a pumpkin! We had a great time with him- he's hilarious! He thinks the batting cages are very American, so we made sure to hit them up when he was here. I even got out there and batted..I now remember why I hate baseball (ha!).

- The Fall colors this year are off the charts beautiful. I'm so grateful to live in Northern California where the changing of the seasons do wonders for the soul:)

Much love to all of you wherever you are. Hope your Fall has been lovely. Here's to the coming of the holidays and winter!!

Apple Hill- the place Fall Dreams are Made of

Thursday, November 16

Think of the most "fall-ish" place you can imagine…and chances are it will probably resemble Apple Hill:) If you live in Northern California, you'll want to visit this stretch of apple farms, pumpkin patches, vineyards, and treats galore! It's the stuff of Autumn dreams:) 

A few weeks ago my sister Lena and I took Avonlea to Apple Hill. It was the perfect day and we had such a blast stopping at all the farms…each unique and fun in their own way! Here's a round-up of our favorite places…

1. Our Favorite Farm: Delfino Farm
This farm is absolutely dreamy. From the minute you drive in, it has breathtaking views from every angle! The grounds are covered with a gorgeous vineyard, apple orchards, corn maze, and grassy knoll for you to enjoy. What I really loved about Delfino is all the walking trails. You can get some good exercise and enjoy the fall beauty surrounding you! 

2. Best Pumpkin Patch: O'Hallorans Apple Train Ranch
O'Halloran's is a diamond in the rough. It wasn't busy at all, as most people don't think to stop…but it is absolutely charming. I felt like they had the most picturesque scenery…we snapped pictures of Avonlea in the apple orchards, and their pumpkin patch is so cute! They grow all their own pumpkins and had a super cute little pumpkin sign! If you want to snap some fall pics, O'Halloran's is your place! 

3. Best Place to eat for food and ambiance: Grandpa's Cellar
I first found Grandpa's Cellar because it's the only place in Apple Hill to offer a wide variety of gluten-free treats (apple crisp, cake and cookies). Their apple dessert game was STRONG! Besides having so many yummy desserts, they also are the only farm in the area to have a picnic area in the orchard. Lena and I took our apple crisp to a table in the apple orchard and ate…didn't get more scenic than that:) 

4. Least Favorite Place: Abel's Apple Farm
Because this place is one of the first farms on the way up, it's PACKED! It's also really tiny so you don't get that "farm" feel. To their credit, they do have a lot of food options, but to me it was a disappointing ambiance. 

Tip: Start at the most northern of farms and work south. Most people start at the southern farms and work up. This will mean that you will hit less crowds! We started at Apple Ridge Farm, and went to Grandpa's Cellar, O'Halloran's, Denver Dan's, and then finished at Delfino! It was a great day! 

Hope this was helpful! We had so much fun. Avonlea LOVED it…she was fascinated with all the people and colors and pumpkins…but her favorite thing was trying to eat the apples! So cute! haha! Enjoy the pics!